News from the world of maths: The language of symmetry in Islamic Art

News from the world of maths: The language of symmetry in Islamic Art

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The language of symmetry in Islamic Art

The monthly Maths-Art seminars at the London Knowledge Lab, that explore the connections between mathematics and art, arose out of the Bridges Conference held in London in 2006. In the next seminar, Richard Henry, an artist and teacher with a specialism in Islamic geometric tiling, will talk about practical geometry and the language of symmetry in Islamic art.

"My work draws considerable inspiration from Islamic art, its history, craft techniques and geometrical ideas," says Henry. "I have a deep interest in the mystical philosophy that underlies the art and how this influences the design of Islamic buildings, with their special sense of sublime tranquility that is often experienced. In explaining these I will present images from an extensive field study that I carried out in Iran. I will also discuss the occurrence of non-periodic tilings in medieval Iranian designs, and how these are related to the modern mathematical theory of Penrose tilings."

The methods Henry uses to create his beautiful images are based on some of the earliest geometric methods used in mathematics: "I am particularly interested in practical geometrical methods, using compass and straight edge, for pattern construction for artists and craftspeople, and have explored these in my own works in painting, print and tile-mosaic. In this talk I will illustrate some of these methods for setting out patterns."

The seminar is on Tuesday 13 October 2009, from 6-7.30pm, at the London Knowledge Lab, 23-29 Emerald St, London, WC1N 3QS (travel information & maps). Everyone is welcome and no reservation required, but an email to would be appreciated for planning purposes.

You can read more about geometry and art on Plus, including the articles on Roger Penrose and Penrose tilings.

posted by Plus @ 9:03 AM


At 3:57 AM, Blogger Speaker2animals said...

This isn't new. Jacob Bronowski commented on symmetry in Middle Eastern art back in 1973, in his acclaimed BBC series, The Ascent of Man.

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